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Best Famous Charles Baudelaire Poems


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by Charles Baudelaire |

Get Drunk

Always be drunk.
That's it!
The great imperative!
In order not to feel
Time's horrid fardel
bruise your shoulders,
grinding you into the earth,
get drunk and stay that way.
On what?
On wine, poetry, virtue, whatever.
But get drunk.
And if you sometimes happen to wake up
on the porches of a palace,
in the green grass of a ditch,
in the dismal loneliness
of your own room,
your drunkenness gone or disappearing,
ask the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock,
ask everything that flees,
everything that groans
or rolls
or sings,
everything that speaks,
ask what time it is;
and the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock
will answer you:
"Time to get drunk!
Don't be martyred slaves of Time,
Get drunk!
Stay drunk!
On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!"


by Charles Baudelaire |

Beauty

 WHAT does it mean? Tired, angry, and ill at ease, 
No man, woman, or child alive could please 
Me now. And yet I almost dare to laugh 
Because I sit and frame an epitaph-- 
"Here lies all that no one loved of him 
And that loved no one." Then in a trice that whim 
Has wearied. But, though I am like a river 
At fall of evening when it seems that never 
Has the sun lighted it or warmed it, while 
Cross breezes cut the surface to a file, 
This heart, some fraction of me, hapily 
Floats through a window even now to a tree 
Down in the misting, dim-lit, quiet vale; 
Not like a pewit that returns to wail 
For something it has lost, but like a dove 
That slants unanswering to its home and love. 
There I find my rest, and through the dusk air 
Flies what yet lives in me. Beauty is there


by Charles Baudelaire |

Benediction

 Bless this little heart, this white soul that has won the kiss of
heaven for our earth.
He loves the light of the sun, he loves the sight of his
mother's face.
He has not learned to despise the dust, and to hanker after
gold.
Clasp him to your heart and bless him.
He has come into this land of an hundred cross-roads.
I know not how he chose you from the crowd, came to your door,
and grasped you hand to ask his way.
He will follow you, laughing the talking, and not a doubt in
his heart.
Keep his trust, lead him straight and bless him.
Lay your hand on his head, and pray that though the waves
underneath grow threatening, yet the breath from above may come and
fill his sails and waft him to the heaven of peace.
Forget him not in your hurry, let him come to your heart and
bless him.


by Algernon Charles Swinburne |

Ave atque Vale (In memory of Charles Baudelaire)

 SHALL I strew on thee rose or rue or laurel, 
 Brother, on this that was the veil of thee? 
 Or quiet sea-flower moulded by the sea, 
Or simplest growth of meadow-sweet or sorrel, 
 Such as the summer-sleepy Dryads weave, 
 Waked up by snow-soft sudden rains at eve? 
Or wilt thou rather, as on earth before, 
 Half-faded fiery blossoms, pale with heat 
 And full of bitter summer, but more sweet 
To thee than gleanings of a northern shore 
 Trod by no tropic feet? 

For always thee the fervid languid glories 
 Allured of heavier suns in mightier skies; 
 Thine ears knew all the wandering watery sighs 
Where the sea sobs round Lesbian promontories, 
 The barren kiss of piteous wave to wave 
 That knows not where is that Leucadian grave 
Which hides too deep the supreme head of song. 
 Ah, salt and sterile as her kisses were, 
 The wild sea winds her and the green gulfs bear 
Hither and thither, and vex and work her wrong, 
 Blind gods that cannot spare. 

Thou sawest, in thine old singing season, brother, 
 Secrets and sorrows unbeheld of us: 
 Fierce loves, and lovely leaf-buds poisonous, 
Bare to thy subtler eye, but for none other 
 Blowing by night in some unbreathed-in clime; 
 The hidden harvest of luxurious time, 
Sin without shape, and pleasure without speech; 
 And where strange dreams in a tumultuous sleep 
 Make the shut eyes of stricken spirits weep; 
And with each face thou sawest the shadow on each, 
 Seeing as men sow men reap. 

O sleepless heart and sombre soul unsleeping, 
 That were athirst for sleep and no more life 
 And no more love, for peace and no more strife! 
Now the dim gods of death have in their keeping 
 Spirit and body and all the springs of song, 
 Is it well now where love can do no wrong, 
Where stingless pleasure has no foam or fang 
 Behind the unopening closure of her lips? 
 Is it not well where soul from body slips 
And flesh from bone divides without a pang 
 As dew from flower-bell drips? 

It is enough; the end and the beginning 
 Are one thing to thee, who art past the end. 
 O hand unclasp'd of unbeholden friend, 
For thee no fruits to pluck, no palms for winning, 
 No triumph and no labour and no lust, 
 Only dead yew-leaves and a little dust. 
O quiet eyes wherein the light saith naught, 
 Whereto the day is dumb, nor any night 
 With obscure finger silences your sight, 
Nor in your speech the sudden soul speaks thought, 
 Sleep, and have sleep for light. 

Now all strange hours and all strange loves are over, 
 Dreams and desires and sombre songs and sweet, 
 Hast thou found place at the great knees and feet 
Of some pale Titan-woman like a lover, 
 Such as thy vision here solicited, 
 Under the shadow of her fair vast head, 
The deep division of prodigious breasts, 
 The solemn slope of mighty limbs asleep, 
 The weight of awful tresses that still keep 
The savour and shade of old-world pine-forests 
 Where the wet hill-winds weep? 

Hast thou found any likeness for thy vision? 
 O gardener of strange flowers, what bud, what bloom, 
 Hast thou found sown, what gather'd in the gloom? 
What of despair, of rapture, of derision, 
 What of life is there, what of ill or good? 
 Are the fruits gray like dust or bright like blood? 
Does the dim ground grow any seed of ours, 
 The faint fields quicken any terrene root, 
 In low lands where the sun and moon are mute 
And all the stars keep silence? Are there flowers 
 At all, or any fruit? 

Alas, but though my flying song flies after, 
 O sweet strange elder singer, thy more fleet 
 Singing, and footprints of thy fleeter feet, 
Some dim derision of mysterious laughter 
 From the blind tongueless warders of the dead, 
 Some gainless glimpse of Proserpine's veil'd head, 
Some little sound of unregarded tears 
 Wept by effaced unprofitable eyes, 
 And from pale mouths some cadence of dead sighs-- 
These only, these the hearkening spirit hears, 
 Sees only such things rise. 

Thou art far too far for wings of words to follow, 
 Far too far off for thought or any prayer. 
 What ails us with thee, who art wind and air? 
What ails us gazing where all seen is hollow? 
 Yet with some fancy, yet with some desire, 
 Dreams pursue death as winds a flying fire, 
Our dreams pursue our dead and do not find. 
 Still, and more swift than they, the thin flame flies, 
 The low light fails us in elusive skies, 
Still the foil'd earnest ear is deaf, and blind 
 Are still the eluded eyes. 

Not thee, O never thee, in all time's changes, 
 Not thee, but this the sound of thy sad soul, 
 The shadow of thy swift spirit, this shut scroll 
I lay my hand on, and not death estranges 
 My spirit from communion of thy song-- 
 These memories and these melodies that throng 
Veil'd porches of a Muse funereal-- 
 These I salute, these touch, these clasp and fold 
 As though a hand were in my hand to hold, 
Or through mine ears a mourning musical 
 Of many mourners roll'd. 

I among these, I also, in such station 
 As when the pyre was charr'd, and piled the sods. 
 And offering to the dead made, and their gods, 
The old mourners had, standing to make libation, 
 I stand, and to the Gods and to the dead 
 Do reverence without prayer or praise, and shed 
Offering to these unknown, the gods of gloom, 
 And what of honey and spice my seed-lands bear, 
 And what I may of fruits in this chill'd air, 
And lay, Orestes-like, across the tomb 
 A curl of sever'd hair. 

But by no hand nor any treason stricken, 
 Not like the low-lying head of Him, the King, 
 The flame that made of Troy a ruinous thing, 
Thou liest and on this dust no tears could quicken. 
 There fall no tears like theirs that all men hear 
 Fall tear by sweet imperishable tear 
Down the opening leaves of holy poets' pages. 
 Thee not Orestes, not Electra mourns; 
 But bending us-ward with memorial urns 
The most high Muses that fulfil all ages 
 Weep, and our God's heart yearns. 

For, sparing of his sacred strength, not often 
 Among us darkling here the lord of light 
 Makes manifest his music and his might 
In hearts that open and in lips that soften 
 With the soft flame and heat of songs that shine. 
 Thy lips indeed he touch'd with bitter wine, 
And nourish'd them indeed with bitter bread; 
 Yet surely from his hand thy soul's food came, 
 The fire that scarr'd thy spirit at his flame 
Was lighted, and thine hungering heart he fed 
 Who feeds our hearts with fame. 

Therefore he too now at thy soul's sunsetting, 
 God of all suns and songs, he too bends down 
 To mix his laurel with thy cypress crown, 
And save thy dust from blame and from forgetting. 
 Therefore he too, seeing all thou wert and art, 
 Compassionate, with sad and sacred heart, 
Mourns thee of many his children the last dead, 
 And hollows with strange tears and alien sighs 
 Thine unmelodious mouth and sunless eyes, 
And over thine irrevocable head 
 Sheds light from the under skies. 

And one weeps with him in the ways Lethean, 
 And stains with tears her changing bosom chill; 
 That obscure Venus of the hollow hill, 
That thing transform'd which was the Cytherean, 
 With lips that lost their Grecian laugh divine 
 Long since, and face no more call'd Erycine-- 
A ghost, a bitter and luxurious god. 
 Thee also with fair flesh and singing spell 
 Did she, a sad and second prey, compel 
Into the footless places once more trod, 
 And shadows hot from hell. 

And now no sacred staff shall break in blossom, 
 No choral salutation lure to light 
 A spirit sick with perfume and sweet night 
And love's tired eyes and hands and barren bosom. 
 There is no help for these things; none to mend, 
 And none to mar; not all our songs, O friend, 
Will make death clear or make life durable. 
 Howbeit with rose and ivy and wild vine 
 And with wild notes about this dust of thine 
At least I fill the place where white dreams dwell 
 And wreathe an unseen shrine. 

Sleep; and if life was bitter to thee, pardon, 
 If sweet, give thanks; thou hast no more to live; 
 And to give thanks is good, and to forgive. 
Out of the mystic and the mournful garden 
 Where all day through thine hands in barren braid 
 Wove the sick flowers of secrecy and shade, 
Green buds of sorrow and sin, and remnants gray, 
 Sweet-smelling, pale with poison, sanguine-hearted, 
 Passions that sprang from sleep and thoughts that started, 
Shall death not bring us all as thee one day 
 Among the days departed? 

For thee, O now a silent soul, my brother, 
 Take at my hands this garland, and farewell. 
 Thin is the leaf, and chill the wintry smell, 
And chill the solemn earth, a fatal mother, 
 With sadder than the Niobean womb, 
 And in the hollow of her breasts a tomb. 
Content thee, howsoe'er, whose days are done; 
 There lies not any troublous thing before, 
 Nor sight nor sound to war against thee more, 
For whom all winds are quiet as the sun, 
 All waters as the shore.


by Charles Baudelaire |

Benediction

 NOW the rooftree of the midnight spreading,
 Buds in citron, green, and blue:
From afar its mystic odours shedding,
 Child, on you.


Now the buried stars beneath the mountain
 And the vales their life renew,
Jetting rainbow blooms from tiny fountains,
 Child, for you.


In the diamond air the sun-star glowing,
 Up its feathered radiance threw;
All the jewel glory there was flowing,
 Child, for you.


As within the quiet waters passing,
 Sun and moon and stars we view,
So the loveliness of life is glassing,
 Child, in you.


And the fire divine in all things burning
 Seeks the mystic heart anew,
From its wanderings far again returning,
 Child, to you.


by Charles Baudelaire |

Music

 Take me by the hand;
it's so easy for you, Angel,
for you are the road
even while being immobile.

You see, I'm scared no one
here will look for me again;
I couldn't make use of
whatever was given,

so they abandoned me.
At first the solitude
charmed me like a prelude,
but so much music wounded me.


by Charles Baudelaire |

Travelling Bohemians

 The prophetic tribe of the ardent eyes
Yesterday they took the road, holding their babies
On their backs, delivering to fierce appetites
The always ready treasure of pendulous breasts.

The men stick their feet out, waving their guns
Alongside the caravan where they tremble together,
Scanning the sky their eyes are weighted down
In mourning for absent chimeras.

At the bottom of his sandy retreat, a cricket
Watched passing, redoubles his song,
Cybele, who loves, adds more flower,

Makes fountains out of rock and blossoms from desert
Opening up before these travelers in a yawn—
A familiar empire, the inscrutable future.


by Charles Baudelaire |

EXOTIC PERFUME

 WHEN with closed eyes in autumn's eves of gold 
I breathe the burning odours of your breast, 
Before my eyes the hills of happy rest 
Bathed in the sun's monotonous fires, unfold. 

Islands of Lethe where exotic boughs 
Bend with their burden of strange fruit bowed down, 
Where men are upright, maids have never grown 
Unkind, but bear a light upon their brows. 

Led by that perfume to these lands of ease, 
I see a port where many ships have flown 
With sails outwearied of the wandering seas; 

While the faint odours from green tamarisks blown, 
Float to my soul and in my senses throng, 
And mingle vaguely with the sailor's song.


by Charles Baudelaire |

THE LIVING FLAME

 THEY pass before me, these Eyes full of light, 
Eyes made magnetic by some angel wise; 
The holy brothers pass before my sight, 
And cast their diamond fires in my dim eyes. 

They keep me from all sin and error grave, 
They set me in the path whence Beauty came; 
They are my servants, and I am their slave, 
And all my soul obeys the living flame. 

Beautiful Eyes that gleam with mystic light 
As candles lighted at full noon; the sun 
Dims not your flame phantastical and bright. 

You sing the dawn; they celebrate life done; 
Marching you chaunt my soul's awakening hymn, 
Stars that no sun has ever made grow dim!


by Charles Baudelaire |

THE SKY

 WHERE'ER he be, on water or on land, 
Under pale suns or climes that flames enfold; 
One of Christ's own, or of Cythera's band, 
Shadowy beggar or Cr?sus rich with gold; 

Citizen, peasant, student, tramp; whate'er 
His little brain may be, alive or dead; 
Man knows the fear of mystery everywhere, 
And peeps, with trembling glances, overhead. 

The heaven above? A strangling cavern wall; 
The lighted ceiling of a music-hall 
Where every actor treads a bloody soil-- 

The hermit's hope; the terror of the sot; 
The sky: the black lid of the mighty pot 
Where the vast human generations boil!